The problem of placing eight queens on the chessboard is a classic one and probably puzzle lovers all over know it too well. The challenge is to place eight queens on the chessboard so that no two queens face each other on a row or a column or a diagonal. In other words they cannot ‘see’ each other.
A real life experience of this I had when I visited the Pandhal Restaurant in Kochi, India. While it was apparent that there were many tables being served at the restaurant diners at each table felt that they were alone and only they were being served at the restaurant exclusively!. this illusion was created effectively by efficient use of multi level floors and curved separators and I said to myself this should have been called the ‘Eight Queens Restaurant’.
In services marketing the trick is make a customer believe that he is being looked after exclusively. Hotels who have perfected this technique know their choicest clientele by their first name. They know their specific needs and wants. They provide custom-made pillows and upholstery for specific guests. Notes such as ‘Mrs. Wilson likes her macaroons with Ear grey tea at 4.20 pm every day’ are written ion the margin of the guest preferences. Therein lies the art of mass customization.
I recently had an opportunity to order some items from Argos. Prompt and regular updates on the shipment and the status of the individual items made me believe that I am being cared for exclusively. I know It is all done by automated systems, but the illusion created is quite satisfying. Debenhams delivered one item out of the six one day late. I was pleasantly surprised to see the return of the delivery charges for the order with a note saying that since one item was delivered late they were returning the amount. Yes it is automated systems in the back ground – the effect – satisfying to say the least.
Systems can be designed that can ensure you are lost among the PIN numbers, customer codes, Consignment trackers, Complaint references etc. Systems can also be designed to isolate you and cater to you specially.
All the talk of user experience, usability and flow design are here to address this aspect. Have they? More importantly how are you designing your systems?